Myths are “stories about the wisdom of life, they really are.”—Campbell, The Power of Myth.
Campbell goes on to say that “what we’re learning in our schools is not the wisdom of life, We’re learning technologies, we’re getting information” Nothing wrong with that. However, by just getting information or becoming adept at technologies, we set aside wisdom teachings. As many indigenous cultures attest, myths originally served to convey to us how everything around us is sacred, holy, and awe-full. The world still is all of these. And, as a singular part of the glorious life we see around us, so are we. However, we also need to be fully and completely aware of our rightful place within Life and the world.
Tat tvam asi or “thou art that” is shorthand for this perspective and way of being in the world. However, we don’t often interact with each other, much less the magnificent world we live in, with this perspective. For most of us, we have lost sight of the intrinsic sacrality that surrounds us in our common everyday life.
Myths remind us. In particular, myths rooted firmly into and interwoven with this perspective of mystery, interdependent relations, wonder, and balance sustain us and imbue our lives with meaning.
“Mythology is a system of images that endows the mind and the sentiments with a sense of participation in a field of meaning.” Joseph Campbell
However, the myths we listen to now are damaged. Our current myths—the myths of patriarchy— the ones we mesh our lives with, generally separate us from the natural world. They also focus on the actions of men (gods; divine, semi-divine, or alien heroes; warriors and saviors of all sorts) as well as inure us to the constant use of violence as the means to power. No wonder it’s hard to see or experience the immanent sacrality of the world around us.
My areas of mythological focus
As a feminist mythologist, part of my job so to speak, is to help us all see clearly and reclaim sustainable perspectives. Specifically, my work revolves around three main areas:
- To reveal the skewed vision of patriarchal mythology and explain its flawed and destructive themes of control, violence, separation, and death.
- To restore women and the centrality of women back into their rightful mythic places. Restoring women’s voices, images, and unique metaphors within mythology is crucial. The females portrayed in our current mythos were constructed under a ganz andere (male gaze). Because women “hold up half the sky,” we need myths that accurately reflect women and girls—our unique powers, experiences, abilities, and symbols.
- To reclaim and revive myths that reflect and inform us of the deep interdependence we are engaged in with the rest of Life. To reclaim myths that are inclusive, balanced, and infused with sacrality and mystery.
Thank you for reading about my perspectives on mythology. As a mythologist, I naturally think that as a collective, we need to understand exactly what type of stories we are currently taking in and living with as well as knowing that our shared inheritance of prudent and wise myths have almost been discarded, but can be reclaimed.